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Following my Nose to the Brooklyn Ball

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The Brooklyn Museum has my number: fashion and food, making their Brooklyn Ball The Party of the Season.

The spectacle starts with an olfactory assault on the 5th floor for cocktails. Pursuing the nose-pinching yet oddly enticing stinky pong, we see yellow waxen masses hanging from the ceiling with heat lamps: an elaborate cheese drip is underway, eight feet above a monumental wooden crate festooned with Carr's crackers.

Needing a drink immediately, we grab from an assortment of glasses on yet another crate and look for a bar, weirdly absent. Blandly monochrome canvases have spigots with wall text: screwdriver, lemonade, white wine, rum & coke. Filling up with dirty martini (sans olive), we find a side room, a slanted wooden floor with a small island of greens, a landscape out of Waiting for Godot. Plucking a parsnip, we enter another room with water basins and paper toweling to rinse. Chloe Sevigny is among the veggie washers.

This interactive dining experience, a combination of installation and performance art called "Icons," is the work of Jennifer Rubell.

Descending the stairs to 4, for a preview of the exhibition "American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection," is the Metropolitan Museum's Harold Koda. This show, presented in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute, begins with footwear. A woman after my own heart, Diane von Furstenberg in a gold evening coat takes a shot of a 1939 Steven Arpad shoe, the curlicue carved heel forming a wedge. Zac Posen holds court near a trio of manikins in Schiaparelli and Charles James. He is celebrating his new collaboration with Target. Former hat designer turned photographer Bill Cunningham snaps the fashionable ogling fashion: Norell, Valentino, Balenciaga.

Next, dinner on 3 in the Beaux-Arts court: those massive crates: giant thighs of beef on one, a dozen turkeys, rabbit, whole pigs with tools for hacking off and slicing. Piled high accompaniment: romaine lettuce on one, asparagus, radish and bean combo on another, fava beans. Mario Batalli serves rabbit.

"Which are the best bits," we ask. "Right here," he says, pointing out the chest. "This is most crispy." We fill our plates and join a museum-length communal table, seating for hundreds.

The after party on 1 features a tarot reader, an origami artist, the Bumby's, a masked couple who could tell you about yourself by merely observing, for example accurately saying a particular guest had a strict Catholic upbringing. A trio of drag queens beckons to tell me how to improve my look: six foot tall "Donatella" suggests I wear bigger shoes and dye my hair platinum (like hers?).

Dessert is in the pinata of Andy Warhol's head, and promptly at 10, the most aggressive swing baseball bats. Out come Ring Dings, Snow Balls, Twinkies in their plastic wraps. Few scramble for these nostalgic sweets, what one curator called "the most vernacular of desserts."

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